Alfa Romeo closing in on 2020 driver decision

Antonio Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo is honing in on confirming its 2020 Formula 1 driver line-up, with team boss Frederic Vasseur praising the recent job of incumbent Antonio Giovinazzi.

Giovinazzi stepped up to Formula 1 full-time this year, two years after a couple of outings as a stand-in, to partner Kimi Raikkonen, who moved across from Ferrari.

Giovinazzi has scored only four points to Raikkonen’s 31, but two of his top 10 finishes came in the last three events, while his one-lap pace has also improved.

Ferrari is understood to have a substantial input on the seat, currently occupied by Giovinazzi, aiding the Italian’s prospects of staying on for 2020.

The only other viable candidate for the seat is Nico Hulkenberg, who was recruited to Renault by Vassuer during the Frenchman’s brief 2016 stint as team boss, and who is out of a drive.

“We will take the decision quite soon,” confirmed Vasseur at the Japanese Grand Prix.

“But honestly, if you have a look at the last event I think that Antonio is doing a very strong job, that he was matching Kimi in the last six or seven qualifyings in a row. He was in front in Sochi.

“OK, the first lap was not a good one for us but he’s doing the job and he’s improving step-by-step [and] I’m very confident with Antonio.”

When asked on Thursday if he had any update on his future, Giovinazzi said: “Not yet, but I think already as I said many times if I continue with these results, the speed I’ve shown in the last few races, nobody can take my seat.

“I just need to keep pushing, stay focused on my target, which is to be here next year, and we’ll see.”